Friday, November 30, 2018

Lean Quote: Appreciation Can Make a Day, Even Change a Life

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary." — Margaret Cousins

If you want your employees to be happy and productive, you need to give them recognition for a job well done and let them know their work is appreciated and important. In a workplace committed to creating an attitude of gratitude and employee recognition on a daily basis, every day should be Thanksgiving Day.

Research has shown that recognition and appreciation is the top driver of employee engagement. Perhaps it seems elementary, but if you want employees who are fully engaged, you need to ensure they are recognized when they do great work and that they know you appreciate their contributions to the organization. Motivated employees do a better job of serving customers well. Happy customers buy more products and are committed to using your services. More customers buying more products and services increases your company's profitability and success.

Thank you may be among the first words our parents teach us, but as we get older we seem to forget how to say them. Many managers usually recognize the major achievements--they celebrate the completion of a successful project, they honor an employee of the month. But how often do managers recognize the little steps their employees complete along the way?

Employees need to be thanked…a lot. So says “guru of thank you” Bob Nelson, author of the bestselling 1001 Ways to Reward Employees—and he should know. Bob said, “The number one reason people leave their jobs today is that they don’t feel recognized for the job they’re doing.” We have all heard the adage “you get what you reward.” So if what you want is more outstanding work from an employee, say thank you the very next time that employee performs an iota of outstanding work.

The best recognition is thoughtful, happens daily, and has a personal touch. Even better, it's usually free.  Demonstrate appreciation!  Write a note, take them to lunch, acknowledge the work in a staff meeting…whatever seems right.  Just remember to say thank you.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Lean Roundup #114 – November 2018


A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of November, 2018.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.

Five Questions to Reflect on Both Process and Results of Problem Solving – Jon Miller shares five questions to ask when evaluating both the process and on the positive outcomes of our problem solving efforts.

A Reader Question about Process Behavior Charts and Business Metrics – Mark Graban answers should we be using financial statements in that way or is there a better approach given our knowledge about different types of variation?

Where Problem-Solving Goes Wrong: Helping People Learn A3 Thinking – Gregg Stocker shares areas in a problem-solving effort where coaching is needed to truly solve problem.

Lean Football – Bob Emiliani shares example of Lean football to dramatize the effect that Lean transformation has on the vested interests of owners and other stakeholders of any manufacturing or service business.

…but where is the problem solving?  - Mark Rosenthal explains that problem solving is not about some specific tool or template.

Sometimes People ARE the Problem – Jeff Hajek discusses the difficulties of processes versus the skills and capabilities of employees running those processes.

Change Management – Post Change Evaluation and Action – John Hunter explains why changes shouldn’t be adopted without any process to evaluate the effectiveness of the change.

How does Lean Thinking Help Us to Prepare for the Unpredictable? – Jon Miller says some things are unpredictable because of their nature and other things because predictable human behaviors make them so.

How Standard Should Standard Improvement Boards Be? – Joseph E. Swartz shares a model of maturity for improvement boards and explain the journey to the highest level.

Thinking About the Why of the What of Problem-Solving – John Shook discusses Art Smalley’s new book “The Fourt Types of Problems.”

Can Lean Succeed in a Strong Labor Environment? – Art Byrne says Lean is all about people, treat people like people not union members and you will greatly increase your chances of success.

First, You’ve Got to Show That You Care – Dan Markovitz shares a story about why you have to show you care first if you want engagement.

Divide and Conquer Creates Need for Management Control – Johanna Rothman explains why divide and conquer causes less learning opportunities and lack of collaboration in product development.



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Monday, November 26, 2018

Book Review: Four Types of Problems


If you’re in business then it is inevitable there are problems that need to be solved. Unfortunately, many are not great problem solvers. We want to solve each problem we face. Not all problems are the same and can’t be solved the same old way. Now there is a new resource to help you understand and coach the art and science of effective problem solving.

In Four Types of Problems, continuous improvement expert and author Art Smalley shows you how to break the “hammer-and-nail” trap.  He demonstrates that most business problems fall into four main categories, each requiring different thought processes, improvement methods, and management cadences:

Type 1: Troubleshooting - A reactive process of rapidly fixing abnormal conditions by returning things to immediately known standards.

Type 2: Gap-from-standard - A structured problem-solving process that aims more at the root cause through problem definition, goal setting, analysis, countermeasure implementation, checks, standards, and follow-up activities.

Type 3: Target-state - Continuous improvement (kaizen) that goes beyond existing levels of performance to achieve new and better standards or conditions.

Type 4: Open-ended and Innovation- Unrestricted pursuit through creativity and synthesis of a vision or ideal condition that entail radical improvements and unexpected products, processes, systems, or value for the customer beyond current levels.

The book starts with a history of problem solving techniques over the last century.  There are far more similarities in the approaches then differences. They employ some type of observation to understand the situation, some form of problem definition, analysis, implementation, experimentation, measurement, and an interactive cycle for learning.

Art presents a basic framework and logic of the four types of problem solving with practical steps for application. He clearly characterizes four distinct types of problems by their defining features making problems quickly recognizable and actionable. Each type of problem category has its own sub-system and surfacing mechanism, management cadence, timing, and difficulty level, he explained. One size does not fit all situations and just training people in tools or techniques only scratches the surface of problem solving.

This book is a great resource to train and develop your own problem solvers. Art shares the strengths and weakness of each problem solving technique. It is also helpful as a reference guide when your stuck. Each chapter includes questions for you and your colleagues to reflect upon and address.


The Four Type of Problems is useful book to anyone interested in solving problems and making improvements. Art did a wonderful job breaking down this challenging topic. He gives us a framework, a mental model, to effectively approach and assess a situation in order to seek and bring the appropriate kind of thinking to calmly, confidently address the problem at hand. I was delighted by this book and recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their capability in problem solving. 

Disclosure: The publisher provided a copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing it.

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Friday, November 23, 2018

Lean Quote: Thanksgiving is a Time to Give Thanks

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"There is no better opportunity to receive more than to be thankful for what you already have. Thanksgiving opens the windows of opportunity for ideas to flow your way." — Jim Rohn

It is that time of the year again, when families and friends come together and celebrate the preamble to the Holiday season. Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all of the great, influential people in our lives. Our immediate outpouring of gratitude always seems to focus on families and friends, the turkey, stuffing and afternoon football.

However, if we don’t get caught in the raucousness of Thanksgiving, and really sit down and value what we have, our jobs, colleagues, and employees equally deserve thanks. And a simple expression of gratitude goes a long way in the workplace.

Here are four great ways to show your employees how grateful you are to have them, just in time for the Thanksgiving holidays.

1. Have an office meal: Who doesn't love a healthy helping of some good food? Thanksgiving is a great time to try and get all your employees in one place for an office meal.

2. The gift of time: Look to the thing many employees value most: time off. When it comes to the holidays, an extra day to prep is always appreciated. If your company can afford to grant this gift to your employees, give it a shot. 

3. Appreciate their work: Nothing inspires people more than knowing their worth. A well-crafted compliment can be better than even the most expensive gift. Your praise can work to kill two birds with one stone. Give your employees the gift of gratitude while also motivating them to produce better work. Sounds like a win-win gift to us.

4. Thank-you wall: When words aren't enough, showcase your creative side. This public display of appreciation is a great way to acknowledge how everyone's good work contributes to a stellar company. Leave your workers with a positive feeling about their efforts before they head off for their holiday travels.

So this Thanksgiving season, extend your thanks from family and friends to your colleagues and work community as well.

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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving! What are You Thankful For?


Thanksgiving Day has evolved over the years as an important holiday. It is not just about feasting and merrymaking. The tradition of Thanksgiving dinner teaches us to appreciate the finer things in life. It is about showing one's gratitude for the blessings that we are showered with. In all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Thanksgiving, take a moment to focus on what being thankful is all about. 

Being thankful for what we already have is probably the most powerful tool of positive thinking. The ability to notice what we already have and to consider ourselves blessed with it truly unlocks the door to abundance and to feeling good.

As we gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, may we vow to live not just this day but every day with a grateful heart and to use our blessings to bless others.


THANKSGIVING

by SREYA CHAKRAVORTY

When Halloween is gone
And the air turns cold
We’ll know Thanksgiving is on
Cheers spread as thank yous are told.

The dining rooms look so fine
And then the turkeys appear.
We are ready to dine
Thanksgiving is here !

But , I wonder , we have
So much more
With our friends and family
Whom we adore.

So let this joy stay
And let the positivity remain
Let’s make Thanksgiving last
For more than a day!



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Monday, November 19, 2018

Lean Tips #132 (1976-1990)

For my Facebook fans you already know about this great feature. But for those of you that are not connected to A Lean Journey on Facebook or Twitter I post daily a feature I call Lean Tips.  It is meant to be advice, things I learned from experience, and some knowledge tidbits about Lean to help you along your journey.  Another great reason to like A Lean Journey on Facebook.


Here is the next addition of tips from the Facebook page:


Lean Tip #1976 - Invest in Your Team's Training and Development.
To keep talent motivated they need to feel as if you're investing in their growth. Millennials, in particular, value having the tools to make better decisions. They want to know they're not just executing on your behalf, but that leadership prioritizes their personal and professional growth.

Lean Tip #1977 - Hone Your Listening Skills.
Leaders typically know how to talk, but aren't as good at sitting back and listening. Yet, allowing people to be heard not only helps with relationship building, it allows leaders to learn from the capable people in their circles.

Lean Tip #1978 – Give Your Team the Right Support
Change usually implies that the team has to learn new skills to understand and interpret new ways of working. The team leader must give opportunity for the team and individual to develop and try new approaches. Make sure your team has appropriate training, development resources, and time to confirm their new skills.

Lean Tip #1979 - Show Your Team Appreciation
You must invest time and energy in your team. Everybody needs to be appreciated and your team is no different! They need to know that you have a personal interest and commitment in them. Recognizing their worth shows that they are valued and the work they do really does matter.

Lean Tip #1980 – Empower Your Team
Employee participation places emphasis on communication, openness and the direct involvement of team members in decision-making. Provide support and facilitate discussion to help the team solve problems. As confidence, commitment and competence increases delegate tasks and let team members take decisions or find solutions to problems.

Lean Tip #1981 – Invest Time in Your People.
The people who show up to work for you every day bring value to your organization. But that doesn’t mean they’ll blindly follow you. Spend some time investing in your team. That could be as simple as monthly team-building events. It could be handwritten notes on Friday mornings. Whatever you choose, don’t just go through the motions. Be curious about your team members. Ask about their backgrounds, their families, their dreams. Implement development programs so your team can continue to learn and grow. If you invest in them, they’ll invest in you.

Lean Tip #1982 – Become a Better Listener.
Many people don’t know how to truly listen. The good news? Following the lessons we learned in grade school—pay attention, don’t interrupt, don’t be distracted—is all that we need to do to become better listeners.

Of course, listening doesn’t just mean paying attention to the words that your team members are saying. It means understanding the emotions behind those words, as well as the nonverbal cues, including body language, tone of voice, and mannerisms, that speak to your team members’ state of mind. If communication is 80 percent nonverbal, as is popularly claimed, then focusing only on the words being spoken means you’re only getting 20 percent of the message.

Lean Tip #1983 – See Things From Employee’s Point of View.
Sometimes it can be really difficult to get a clear read on the emotional state of your team. One way that you can gain this insight is to put yourself in the shoes of your team members. Ask yourself: How would you feel in a similar situation? What would you do? What would you want or expect from your manager? What would you not want? Use these insights to inform your management techniques, build rapport, and foster the level of communication that you need in order to be effective at your job.

Lean Tip #1984 – Leave Judgment Behind.
Even when the feelings of others are in direct opposition to their own, empathetic leaders don’t judge. They let go of their biases and allow themselves to be open to new perspectives. When you’re an empathetic leader, you don’t look at the feelings of others in terms of agreement or disagreement but as a window into their perceptions and world view, an opportunity to better understand what they’re experiencing and expressing.

Lean Tip #1985 – Encourage Creativity
If you want your staff to do their best work, you need to give them the freedom to brainstorm and explore. Be open to your team's ideas and suggestions, and be ready to consider them and possibly develop them further.

A good leader also gives the team new challenges, preventing them from becoming bored and complacent while showing confidence in their potential.

Lean Tip #1986 – Cultivate a Culture of Innovation.
Great business leaders drive their teams to step out of the confines of routine and achieve the extraordinary. Building teamwork and rewarding collaboration are key to achieving your goals.

Cultivating a culture that values innovation is one of the most difficult responsibilities a business leader has. Here's how the best nurture innovation in their companies:

·        Proactively introduce mechanisms that naturally boost creative and innovative thinking.
·        Make incremental improvements in the workplace to facilitate out-of-the-box thinking.
·        Use tools to measure how employees spend their time.
·        Encourage practical shuffling of duties and departments to help employees gain a wider perspective of the organization's work.
·        Show employees how they can use time-tested methods of creative idea generation (brainstorming, mind mapping, story boarding, etc.) by organizing and participating in sessions.

Lean Tip #1987 – Strive for Perfection But Also Understand That No One is Perfect.
As a business leader, you should always strive for perfection in your work. At the same time, it is essential to understand that no one is perfect.

A leader should not scare away employees; instead, an employee should feel secure in the presence of the leader. Here are some ways you can lead effectively while working toward perfection:

·        Identify the potential of each employee and delegate tasks to them based on their work persona.
·        Do not scold employees when they do something wrong. Help and guide them when they need you the most.
·        Continuously groom the skills of your employees and motivate them so they feel greatness is achievable.
·        Cultivate a culture of working smartly so employees achieve more in less time.
·        Don't let your quest for perfectionism turn into an obsession.

Lean Tip #1988 – A Little Humility Goes a Long Way.
There’s a difference between a leader and a boss. While both are in charge, a leader shares the spotlight and is comfortable crediting others. While it might seem counterintuitive, being humble takes more confidence than basking in glory. Your employees will appreciate it, and your clients will, too.

Lean Tip #1989 – Win Trust of Your Team.
Your team will become engaged and loyal if they feel they are surrounded by people they can trust. The first and most important aspect of building trust is to get involved in coworkers or employees’ everyday work problems. Pay close attention to those who are behind everyone else, and devote some time to explaining their task to them. The second step is to get to know their lives outside the office. But, don’t overdo it—no one likes intrusive bosses.

Lean Tip #1990 – Make Time for What’s Important

A leader has so many responsibilities and a lot of pressure to handle. Sometimes these pressures can become too much to handle, and this is when it is time to step back and get away from everything. Spend time with your family and friends so that you can refresh your mind. Get work off your mind for a couple of days so that you can completely rejuvenate and come back to your business with the energy needed to lead your team towards success.

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Lean Quote: Progress is Impossible Without Change

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order." — Alfred North Whitehead

Change management is a business term relating to initiating change within an organization. This could include anything from a change in work culture to increasing employee engagement and morale. The problem, however, with the term change management, is that no one really desires to change. Instead, we desire to plan to progress and we want leaders to lead us.

George Bernard Shaw wrote“ Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” To change means wading into the unknown. That scares some people. But progress demands you let down your need for control and do something new.

Change doesn’t come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek and now would be a pretty good moment to shift gear.

Winston Churchill said ‘To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” and it seems to be the case that nothing is permanent except change so our relationship to it defines us.

Change is inevitable. Adaptation to change is a necessary and critical component to survival. But mostly, change is a constant in business. And business seems to be where the adaptation to change -- or lack thereof -- seems to have some of the most significant impact.

Committed leaders, should not be apologizing for the change, but instead, they should focus on inspiring the progress of their organization. People tend to naturally resist change. 

Reduce resistance by making the change known, easy, beneficial, and popular. If leaders include others in the process, they can shape and sustain the thoughts that in turn lead to desired results.

Companies are most successful when the goals of the company connect personally with the employees. If the goals don’t connect on a personal level with the individual, then the planned progress will be viewed as merely a change and will be resisted or at least not acted on.

Change cannot happen to people. It needs to happen with people. Change must be co-created. Everyone should have some say in how the change is implemented. It is their job and their life. Let them have an element of control. If you keep lines of communication open for suggestions, you will hear lots of good ideas from the people who need to make the change happen. Use those ideas because it will build more engagement in the process. Create the change together.


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